Record flight: Lufthansa takes off with Antarctica researchers on its 13,700-kilometer journey
This Sunday, January 31, an Airbus A350-900 took off on the longest non-stop flight in Lufthansa’s history under flight number LH2574: 13,700 kilometers from Hamburg to the military base Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. At 9:30 p.m., it’s “ready for take-off” for 16 crew members and 92 passengers. On board the 15-hour flight on behalf of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, are scientists and ship crews traveling to the upcoming expedition with the research vessel Polarstern. The A350-900 will be transferred from Frankfurt to Hamburg on Sunday afternoon. Arrival at Hamburg Airport is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. under flight number LH9924. The Airbus with registration D-AIXP, carrying the name of the German city of Braunschweig, joined the Lufthansa fleet last year. It is one of the world’s most sustainable and economical long-haul aircraft.
As the hygiene requirements for this flight are extremely high, the Lufthansa crew went into quarantine two weeks ago together with the passengers in a hotel in Bremerhaven. During this time, they participated in a virtual information and sports program. They completed a 10,000-step competition, an idea of the Lufthansa crew, to stay fit during the first week of room quarantine. In addition, there were presentations by the scientists traveling with them, which were soon followed virtually by several hundred Lufthansa employees.
Crew and passengers will travel by bus from Bremerhaven to Hamburg on Sunday. With a closely coordinated hygiene concept, Hamburg Airport will ensure contactless boarding. Terminal areas that are currently out of operation will be used to help ensure that no contact with other travelers is possible. LH2574 is also a record flight for the airport: it is the longest non-stop flight ever to take off from the Hamburg apron.
Overall, the preparations for the special flight are enormous. It begins with additional training for the pilots and extends to special electronic flight and landing charts. Catering will be loaded onto the aircraft in Frankfurt already. Two employees are in contact with the crew in Bremerhaven via video to ensure that all necessary items are on board. It will not be possible to reload later. In addition, cleaning materials and vacuum cleaners will travel on-board the flight, as local ground crews are not allowed to board the aircraft after landing in the Falkland Islands. Lufthansa crew therefore includes technicians and ground staff for on-site handling and maintenance.
To make the flight comfortable, passengers travel in Business Class and in the Sleeper’s Rows. In the Sleeper’s Row, a row of seats in Economy Class is equipped with a mattress, blanket and pillows. The A350-900 also features lighting technology to support the sleep/night rhythm. For this flight, for example, the cabin lighting was adapted in such a way that the four-hour time difference will only cause minimal jet lag.
After landing on the Falkland Islands, the expedition members will continue their journey to Antarctica on the research vessel Polarstern. Due to legal requirements in the Falkland Islands, the Lufthansa crew will again go into quarantine after landing. The return flight will depart on February 3 under flight number LH2575 with destination Munich. Arrival in Munich is scheduled for Thursday, February 4 at 2 p.m. On board this return flight will be crews of the Polarstern, which had left Germany on December 20.